Worcester Township is home to an unusual antiquity that has crossed from the 19th century into the 21st century. The Farmers’ Union Horse Company for the Recovery of Stolen Horses and Detecting the Thieves was first chartered in Pennsylvania in 1834 as a farmers cooperative insurance company.
When the Farmers’ Union Horse Company was formed, if a member’s horse was stolen, a "Pursuit Committee" was formed to capture the thief. If they could not find the horse the company would pay the owner $200. That was enough to cover the cost of the horse. Between the company's start in 1834 and to 1890, six horses were stolen. Four of those were recovered.
Times have changed, and so has our Pursuit Committee. If you have a runaway or lost horse in our area, the Farmers’ Union Company Pursuit Committee will still help with the pursuit and capture of your Horse. Over the years there have been several incidents of loose horses roaming the township. There have been a few occasions where no one could find the owner for a period of time.
20th Century Horse Show and Parade
For nearly 70 years, on the first Saturday in June, members rode or drove their horses to Fairview Village to register them for another year. For a nominal fee, the member farmers would then guarantee to seek out any missing horses. All the records, except for a few years that are lost, are still in the Horse Company's possession. It is interesting to note that there was not a rash of horse thieving going on in the Township. More often than not, they rescued a loose or roaming horse. Early in the 20th century with the use of tractors and trucks, the Horse Company disbanded.
In 1940, a group of Worcester residents decided to relive the "old days" and reenact the parade to Fairview Village on the first Saturday in June. The Farmers’ Union Parade and Horse Show became a new tradition for Fairview Village. For 60 years there was a parade up Germantown Pike to Heyser Field where a horse show ran all day. In its glory days of the 50s and 60s, the parade would take over an hour to pass along its route. Again, the changing times dictated. Many of the local horse owners sold their land or moved away. The number of spectators and participants dwindled and the parade lost its appeal.
In 2000, the last annual parade made its way up Germantown Pike. Thanks to the generosity of John Heyser, the Horse Show tradition continues on the first Saturday of June at Heyser Field. Heyser Field is located behind Fairview Village Community Hall, Fairview Village. The horse show is as popular as ever. The possibility always exists that a revival parade could take place if there was enough community interest. The Horse Company is always looking for new members. Horse ownership is not required, just a desire to be part of a historical group that has fun.
All pictures on this page published courtesy of the Worcester Historical Society.
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